Relative’s gifts choices are unwanted and annoying

Published 8:25 am Tuesday, May 7, 2024

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DEAR ABBY: I’m a 77-year-old woman with a 27-year-old granddaughter who loves electronic gadgets and toys. She’s comfortable financially and often buys expensive gifts for me. While I appreciate her generosity and her desire to make my life “easier and more fun,” I simply am NOT INTERESTED in them. 

I find these devices more frustrating than enjoyable. I don’t NEED anything, and I don’t WANT anything. I have asked her repeatedly to please not spend her money on me, but it falls on deaf ears. Perhaps if you print this, she might realize how difficult it sometimes is for us older folks to use these gadgets. How can I get my point across without hurting her feelings? — GOOD INTENTIONS


DEAR GOOD INTENTIONS: Tell your granddaughter you love her and appreciate her generosity, but electronic gadgets are not enjoyable for you, and you wish she would stop giving them to you. If she asks what you might like, explain (again) that you do not need anything but would instead like to spend time or go to an event with her. That message should not cause hurt feelings.


DEAR ABBY: I have one sibling, a sister, who is three years younger than I am. Our mom is very elderly. My sister and I have a terrible relationship. We cannot get along. 

When Mom dies, would it be OK for me not to go to the funeral? We have no other family, and I have no desire to see my sister. Mom and I have a great relationship. Do other people experience this? I told her lawyer I can’t go. He said he understands. — ON MY OWN IN NEW YORK


DEAR O.M.O.: Funerals may seem to be “for” the deceased, but they are really to comfort the living. The time to demonstrate respect and affection is while someone is living. You have done that with your mother for many years. I doubt there is much left unsaid between you. When your mother passes, do what feels right to you. Your mother’s lawyer said he understands. That should be enough dispensation.


DEAR ABBY: After spending hours preparing a meal, is it appropriate for your guest to cover the food on their plate with salt and pepper without first tasting it? Beyond being inappropriate, isn’t it just plain rude? Should I say something? Never invite them for a meal again? Or just let it go? — IN A STATE IN THE GARDEN STATE


DEAR IN A STATE: The next time a guest reflexively gestures toward the saltshaker without having taken a bite of your food, you would be within your rights to ask WHY. Perhaps your cooking tends toward the underspiced. 

If you are truly offended by this, no rule of etiquette decrees that you must invite the person again. (I also know of no rule of etiquette that states a host MUST put salt and pepper on the table.) If a friendship is a warm one, I’m inclined to allow my guests to do whatever makes them comfortable, appreciate them for who they are and let something like this go. 


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $16 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)